Business expansion - mini track loaders

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Central Island Lawn, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. Central Island Lawn

    Central Island Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    Hello folks.
    I have been in landscaping for about 4 years and 90% of the work I do has been maintenance. No complaints as this year I finally landed some strata contracts and it looks like I'll be bidding on more this coming spring. I also do Irrigation which just about fills up the other 10% of my work. I have been looking at getting in to more installation work and have been wondering about machinery. I am looking at getting a Toro Dingo or Bobcat MT5x. Before I take on the risk of the loan for the purchase I want to know if it's going to pay for itself over time. My question is this:

    For those of you that have bought one of these mini track loaders, did the work start to show up after you bought it it or was buying the machine a response to getting more work? I ask because I don't want to make the purchase only to lose money on payments and not use the machine, or have to sell it. Obviously I have to do some kind of marketing and advertising, perhaps a promotion this winter and spring (or perhaps the whole year) on mini machine work.

    Mainly I want a track unit for trenching as I get subcontract irrigation work from a local landscaper. I have looked at the Vermeer and Ditch Witch walk behind units, but the soil here is full of rocks and in the mud a track unit would float and probably pull the smaller rocks out easier. The vermeer RT100 that I use will hangup on a rock and the drive wheels dig in to the mud, then I have to use a little muscle to get the POS out of the mud, move it forward a foot, and hand dig the spot that I missed.

    I'm not asking which machine to buy, but rather should I apply for the loan or financing and buy it. There is a used Dingo 420 I can get with a trencher, buckets and a box rake for $12,900 CAD. Or I can buy a Bobcat MT50 for $6,000 and buy the attachments I need seperately. Or should I buy a used Vermeer or Ditchwitch for under $2,000?

    I guess I should add that I will probably want to buy a dump trailer for carrying away anything that I excavate if I buy the mini loader too right?
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    Find out what it will cost per month. Multiply that by twelve. Rent the same type of machine as needed. When you match the annual cost of paying for the machine in rental fees, start thinking about buying one.
  3. NC Greenscaper

    NC Greenscaper LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 446

    That's real good advice for cost justifying. I will tell you that you will find yourself using it for much more than you would rent one for. They are very handy tools and you go home at the end of the day feeling alot better.
  4. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    If you have it, you will use it more than a rental. But, if you think it through, that use has far less of an impact on your bottom line than 12 months of payments does if it would not trigger you renting the machine if you did not have it.

    I'd use an elevator to go into my basement every day if I had one, but I'm certainly not going to buy one.
  5. Caterkillar

    Caterkillar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 995

    As always, AGLA's post make perfect sense.

    The problem is his posts defy your "want a new toy syndrome!" Not picking on you, but this "want a new toy syndrome" gets people in trouble.

    I was in the same situation as you about 3-4 years ago. I really don't think there is a niche for "mini-loaders." There is however a huge niche for using mini-loaders to complete residential and even commercial landscaping and irrigation. I paid cash for a used one and use it very heavily in landscaping and irrigation that I market for, but I never get calls for "mini-loader" work.

    I would be very leary of getting a loan for a piece of equipment that is for only 10% of your workload. Why not pay cash for a 5k mini-loader? There are plenty of them out there at that price with good hours. If it sits and you don't use no harm, and you could probably get 95% of your money back out of it if you decide to sell it.
  6. Caterkillar

    Caterkillar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 995

    LOL... good analogy!

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